The first person to swim to Rabbit Island

On July 29th, 2012, Sara Maynard swam to the island from the Hannula’s pier in Rabbit Bay. The crossing took one hour and fifty one minutes–A record! The lake was calm that day and the afternoon sky started out sunny and became slightly overcast as she neared the rocky northwestern shore of the island. She touched a foot down in waist deep water and was greeted with howls as she climbed out of the lake to a waiting bonfire.  

At the time we had talked about inviting a reporter from our local newspaper, the Daily Mining Gazette, to cover the event but busy days came and went in the preceding weeks and Sara pulled the trigger on a whim amidst a window of promising weather. Regardless, it was the kind of thing where news was made in a small town and we find ourselves still thinking about Sara vs. the Lake in terms of newsprint and smudgy photographs. Grandkids will definitely hear about this one.

Sara had this to say about the experience: 

Being on the island allowed me to jump in and swim at any time, for as long as I wanted, without worrying about things like sharks or seals which are always on one’s mind where I train in San Francisco Bay. Also absent was the constant stream of motors zipping around which happens on most inland lakes.

Another thing was the mental component of long distance swimming in the wide open lake. Its one thing to be a competitive pool swimmer where you are racing for a few seconds or minutes, but when you start to get into distance you enter a different mindset. While the island crossing was one of the longest I have done thus far, the actual distance in the water wasn’t something I was terribly concerned with physically. What I was focusing on during training swims around the island and finally during the crossing was what to do when all you hear is water, or silence, for hours. Swims around the island were great and then having the support kayak and dinghy to guide me across the bay was amazing (not to mention the surprise boat visit from you guys). Being removed from the noise of the city for an extended period beforehand also prepared me to be in my own head and with my own thoughts. 

So what did I actually do during the 1:51 that it took me to swim close to 4 miles? I have to admit (sadly!) that that silly song was stuck in my head for the beginning of the swim (“So call me, maybe?”). This dissipated, thankfully, and I found silence and the rhythm of swimming. I felt moments of complete awe of where I was (a lake with a fjord!), of the fact that I was spending three weeks on an island in Lake Superior, and that I still had so much ahead of me. I was overwhelmed with feeling completely fortunate to have had this opportunity. Then, when I felt like I had thought a lot about all that, I started counting to 100, until I got to 1000. And then counted some more!  

Read more about Sara’s experiences cooking, camping, sauna building, trips to town and view more of her photos on her blog here and here.

p.s. Her trip to the island was sponsored by the Kickstarter community. Thanks y'all.  

December 3, 2012